Kia's primary reputation in the US is for building inexpensive basic transportation. However, back in the home market of South Korea, Kia has been working with corporate siblings Hyundai on a variety of alternative fuel vehicles. Kia Strategic Planner Hyun Jin Cho has a post on the Kia Buzz blog about some of the company's projects. Even before getting gobbled up by Hyundai a decade ago, Kia was actually the first Korean manufacturer to build an electric vehicle with a battery-powered van called the Besta. Since their affiliation with Hyundai, Kia engineers have been involved in fuel cell research and part of the combined company's hydrogen test fleet includes several Sportage SUVs. The current version of the FCEV Sportage has a 215-mile range with 5,000psi compressed hydrogen on board. Nearer term, Kia has built a number of hybrid vehicles that have been running in test fleets since 2005. A production version is planned for a 2009 retail launch. One project not mentioned but likely to first hit the U.S. market will actually be a new diesel V-6 destined for the Borrego in 2010. We got a look at that engine in January at the Detroit Auto Show and it's currently being tested at the Hyundai Kia Tech Center near Ann Arbor MI.

[Source: Kia Buzz]

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